Charles James Lever.

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ment, or had he refused to acknowledge him altogether,
he could better have borne it than all the kindness of his
present manner. It was evident, too, from Lady Eleanor's
tone to him, that she knew nothing of his unhappy for-
tune, or that if she did, the delicacy with which she treated
him was only the more benevolent. Oppressed by such
emotions, he sat endeavouring to eat, and ti'ying to listen
and interest himself in the conversation around him, but
the effort was too much for his strength, and a vague,
half- whispered assent, or a dull, unmeaning smile, were
about as much as he could contribute to what was passing.

The Knight, whose tact was rarely at fault, saw every
struggle that was passing in Leonard's mind, and adroitly
contrived that the conversation should be carried on
without any demand upon him, either as talker or listener.
If Lady Eleanor and Helen contributed their aid to this
end, Mr. Dempsey was not backward on his part, for he
talked unceasingly. The good things of the table, to
which he did ample justice, afforded an opportunity for
catechizing the ladies in their skill in household matters,
and Miss Darcy, who seemed immensely amused by the
novelty of such a character, sustained her part to admira-


tion, entering deeply into culinary details, and com-
municating receipts invented for the occasion. At another
time, perhaps, the Knight would have checked the spirit
of persiflage in which his daughter indulged, but he
suffered it now to take its course, well pleased that the
mark of her ridicule was not only worthy of the sarcasm,
but insensible to its arrow.

" Quite right quite right not to try Mother Fum's
when you can get up a little thing like this and such
capital sherry ; look how Tom takes it in slips like oil
over his lip ! "

Leonard looked up ; an expression of rebuking severity
for a moment crossed his features, but his eyes fell the
next instant, and a low, faint sigh escaped him.

" I ought to know what sherry is 'Dodd and Demp-
sey's' was the great house for sherry."

" By the way," said the Knight, " did not you promise
me a little narrative of Dodd and Dempsey, when we
parted yesterday ?"

" To be sure I did. Will you have it now ? "

Lady Eleanor and Helen rose to withdraw, but Mr.
Dempsey, who took the movement as significant, imme-
diately interposed, by saying, *

" Don't stir, ma'am sit down, ladies, I beg; there's
nothing broad in the story it might be told before the
maids of honour."

Lady Eleanor and Helen were thunderstruck at the
explanation, and the Knight laughed till the tears

" My dear Eleanor," said he, " you really must accept
Mr. Dempsey 's assurance, and listen to his story now."

The ladies took their seats once more, and Mr. Dempsey
having fill his glass, drank off a bumper ; but whether it
was that the narrative itself demanded a greater exertion
at his hands, or that the cold quietude of Lady Eleanor's
manner abashed him, but he found a second bumper
necessary before he commenced his task.

"I say," whispered he to the Knight, "couldn't you
get that decanter out of Leonard's reach before I begin ?
he'll not leave a drop in it while I am talking."

As if he felt that, after his explanation, the tale should


be more particularly addressed to Lady Eleanor, he turned
his chair round so as to face her, and thus began :

" There was once upon a time, ma'am, a Lord-Lieu-
tenant of Ireland who was a Duke. Whether he was
Duke of Rutland, or Bedford, or Portland, or any other
title it was he had, my memory doesn't serve me ; it is
enough, however, if I say he was immensely rich, and,
like many other people in the same way, immensely in
debt. The story goes that he never travelled through
England, and caught sight of a handsome place, or fine
domain, or a beautiful cottage, that he didn't go straight-
way to the owner and buy it down out of the face, as a
body might say, whether he would or no. And so in time
it came to pass that there was scarcely a county in Eng-
land without some magnificent house belonging to him.
In many parts of Scotland he had them too, and, in all
probability, he would have done the same in Ireland if he
could. Well, ma'am, there never was such rejoicings as
Dublin saw the night his Grace arrived to be our Viceroy !
To know that we had got a man with one hundred and
fifty thousand a year, and a spirit to spend double the
money, was a downright blessing from Providence, and
there was no saying what might not be the prosperity of
Ireland under so auspicious a ruler.

" To do him justice, he didn't baulk public expectation.
Open house at the Castle, ditto at the Lodge in the Park,
a mansion full of guests in the county Wicklow, a pack of
hounds in Kildare, twelve horses training at the Curragh,
a yacht like a little man-of-war in Dunleary harbour, large
subscriptions to everything like sport, and a pension for
life to every man that could sing a jolly song, or write a
witty bit of poetry! Well, ma'am, they say, who re-
member those days, that they saw the best of Ireland,
and surely I believe, if his Grace had only lived, and had
his own way, the peerage would have been as pleasant,
and the bench of bishops as droll, and the ladies of

honour as Well, never mind, I'll pass on." Here

Mr. Dempsey, to console himself for the abruptness of his
pause, poured out and drank another bumper of sherry.
''Pleasant times they were," said he, smacking his lips,
" and faith, if Tom Leonard himself was alive then, the


colour of his nose might have made him Commander of
the Forces ; but, to continue, it was Dodd and Dempsey's
house supplied the sherry only the sherry, ma'am ; old
Stewart, of Belfast, had the port, and Kinnahan the claret
and lighter liquors. I may mention, by the way, that
my grandfather's contract included brandy, and that he
wouldn't have given it up for either of the other two.
It was just about this time that Dodd died, and my grand-
father was left alone in the firm, but whether it was out
of respect for his late partner, or that he might have felt
himself lonely, but he always kept up the name of Dodd
on the brass plate, and signed the name along with his
own; indeed, they say that he once saluted his wife by
the name of Mrs. Dodd and Dempsey. But, as I was
saying, it was one of those days when my grandfather was
seated on a high stool in the back office of his house in
Abbey Street, that a fine, tall young fellow, with a blue
frock-coat, all braided with gold, and an elegant cocked-
hat, with a plume of feathers in it, came tramping into
the room, his spurs jingling, and his brass sabre clinking,
and his sabretash banging at his legs.

" ' Mr. Dempsey ? ' said he.

" ' D. and D.,' said my grandfather ; ' that is, Dodd and
Dempsey, your Grace,' for he half suspected it was the
Duke himself.

" 'I am Captain M'Claverty, of the Scots Greys,' said
he, 'first aide-de-camp to his Excellency.'

" ' I hope you may live to be colonel of the regiment,'
said my grandfather, for he was as polite and well-bred as
any man in Ireland.

" ' That's too good a sentiment,' said the captain, ' not
to be pledged in a glass of your own sherry.'

" ' And we'll do it, too,' said old Dempsey. And he
opened the desk, and took out a bottle he had for his own
private drinking, and uncorked it with a little pocket
corkscrew he always carried about with him, and he pro-
duced two glasses, and he and the captain hob-nobbed and
drank to each other.

" 'Begad!' said the captain, 'his Grace sent me to
thank you for the delicious wine you supplied him with,
but it's nothing to this not to be compared to it.'


" ' I've better again,' said my grandfather. ' I've wine
that would bring the tears into your eyes when you saw
the decanter getting low.'

" The captain stared at him, and maybe it was that the
speech was too much for his nerves, but he drank off two
glasses one after the other as quick as he could fill them

" ' Dempsey,' said he, looking round, cautiously, ' are
we alone ? '

" ' We are,' said my grandfather.

" ' Tell me, then,' said M'Claverty, ' how could his
Grace get a taste of this real sherry for himself alone,
I mean ? Of course, I never thought of his giving it to
the Judges, and old Lord Dunboyne, and such like.'

" ' Does he ever take a little sup in his own room, of an
evening ? '

" ' I am afraid not, but I'll tell you how I think it
might be managed ; you're a snug fellow, Dempsey,
you've plenty of money muddling away in the bank at
three-and-a-half per cent., couldn't you contrive, some
way or other, to get into his Excellency's confidence, and
lend him ten or fifteen thousand or so ? '

" ' Ay, or twenty,' said my grandfather ' or twenty, if
he likes it.'

" ' I doubt if he would accept such a sum,' said the
captain, shaking his head ; ' he has bags of money rolling
in upon him every week or fortnight ; sometimes we don't
know where to put them.'

" ' Oh, of course,' said my grandfather ; ' I meant no
offence, I only said twenty because, if his Grace would
condescend, it isn't twenty, but a fifty thousand I could
give him, and on the nail, too.'

" ' You're a fine fellow, Dempsey a devilish fine
fellow ; you're the very kind of fellow the Duke likes
open-handed, frank, and generous.'

" ' Do you really think he'd like me ? ' said my grand-
father ; and he rocked on the high stool, so that it nearly
came down.

" ' Like you ! I'll tell you what it is,' said he, laying
his hand on my grandfather's knee, ' before one week was
over, he couldn't do without you. You'd be there morn-


ing, noon, and night ; your knife and fork always ready
for you, just like one of the family.'

" ' Blood alive ! ' said my grandfather, ' do you tell
me so ? '

" ' I'll bet you a hundred pounds on it, sir.'

" ' Done,' said my grandfather, ' and you must hold the
stakes ;' and with that he opened his black pocket-book,
and put a note for the amount into the captain's hand.

" ' This is the 31st of March,' said the captain, taking
out his pencil and tablets. ' I'll just book the bet.'

" And, indeed," added Mr. Dempsey, " for that matter,
if it was a day later it would have been only more

" Well, ma'am, what passed between them afterwards
I never heard said, but the captain took his leave, and
left my grandfather so delighted and overjoyed, that
he finished all the sherry in the drawer, and when the
head clerk came in to ask for an invoice, or a thing of
the kind, he found old Mr. Dempsey with his wig on the
high stool, and he bowing round it, and calling it your
Grace. There's no denying it, ma'am, he was blind

"About ten days or a fortnight after this time, my
grandfather received a note from Teesum and Twist, the
solicitors, stating that the draft or the bond was already
drawn up for the loan he was about to make to his Grace,
and begging to know to whom it was to be submitted.

" ' The captain will win his bet, devil a lie in it,' said
my grandfather ; ' he's going to bring the Duke and
myself togethei'.'

" Well, ma'am, I won't bother you with the law busi-
ness, though if my father was telling the story he would
not spare you one item of it all who read this, and who
signed the other, and the objections that was made by
them thieving attorneys ! and how the Solicitor- General
struck out this and put in that clause ; but to tell you
the truth, ma'am, I think that all the details spoil, what
we may call, the poetry of the narrative ; it is finer to
say he paid the money, and the Duke pocketed it.

" Well, weeks went over and months long, and not a
bit of the Duke did my grandfather see, nor M'Claverty


either ; be never came near him. To be sure bis Grace
drank as much sherry as ever ; indeed, I believe out of
love to my grandfather they drank little else ; from the
bishops and the chaplain, down to the battle-axe guards,
it was sherry, morning, noon, and night ; and though this
was very pleasing to my grandfather, he was always
wishing for the time when he was to be presented to his
Grace, and their friendship was to begin. My grand-
father could think of nothing else, daylight and dark ;
when he walked, he was always repeating to himself what
his Grace might say to him, and what he would say to
his Grace ; and he was perpetually going up at eleven
o'clock, when the guard was relieved in the Castle-yard,
suspecting that every now and then a footman in blue
and silver would come out, and, touching his elbow,
whisper in his ear, ' Mr. Dempsey, the Duke's waiting
for you.' But, my dear ma'am, he might have waited till
now, if Providence had spared him, and the devil a taste
of the same message would ever have come near him, or
a sight of the same footman in blue ! It was neither
more nor less than a delusion, or an illusion, or a con-
fusion, or whatever the name of it is. At last, ma'am, in
one of his prowlings about the Phoenix Park, who does
he come on but M'Claverty ; he was riding past in a
great hurry, but he pulled up when he saw my grand-
father, and called out, ' Hang it ! who's this ? I ought
to know you.'

" ' Indeed you ought,' said my grandfather; ' I'm Dodd
and Dempsey, and by the same token there's a little bet
between us, and I'd like to know who won and who

" ' I think there's small doubt about that,' said the
captain ; ' didn't his Grace borrow twenty thousand of

" ' He did, no doubt of it.'

" ' And wasn't it my doing '? '

" ' Upon my conscience, I can't deny it.'

" ' Well, then, I won the wager, that's clear.'

" ' Oh ! I see now,' said my grandfather ; ' that was the
wager, was it ? Oh, bedad ! I think you might have
given me odds, if that was our bet.'


" ' Why, what did you think it was '? '

" ' Oh, nothing at all, sir ; it's no matter now ; it was
another thing was passing in my mind. I was hoping to
have the honour of making his acquaintance, flattered as
I was by all you told me about him.'

" ' Ah ! that's difficult, I confess,' said the captain, ' but
still one might do something. He wants a little money
just now ; if you could make interest to be the lender, I
wouldn't say that what you suggest is impossible.'

" Well, ma'am, it was just as it happened before. The
old story, more parchment, more comparing of deeds, and
a heavy cheque on the bank for the amount.

" When it was all done, M'Claverty caine in one morn-
ing in plain clothes to my grandfather's back office.

" ' Dodd and DempsejV said he, ' I've been thinking
over your business, and I'll tell you what my plan is. Old
Vereker, the chamberlain, is little better than a beast,
thinks nothing of anybody that isn't a lord or a viscount,
and, in fact, if he had his will, the Lodge in the Phoenix
would be more like Pekin in Tartary than anything else ;
but I'll tell you, if he won't present you at the levee,
which he flatly refuses at present, I'll do the thing in a
way of my own. His Grace is going to spend a week up
at Ballyriggan House,, in the county of Wicklow, and I'll
contrive it, when he's taking his morning walk through
the shrubbery, to present you. All you've to do is to be
ready at a turn of the walk ; I'll show you the place,
you'll hear his foot on the gravel, and you'll slip out, just
this way. Leave the rest to me.'

"'It's beautiful,' said my grandfather; 'begad, that's

" ' There's one difficulty,' said M'Claverty ' one infernal

" ' What's that ? ' asked my grandfather.

" ' I may be obliged to be out of the way. I lost five
fifties at Daly's the other night, and I may have to cross
the water for a few weeks.'

" ' Don'.t let that trouble you,' said my grandfather ;
' there's the paper.' And he put the little bit of music into
his hand, and sure enough a pleasanter sound than the
same crisp squeak of a new note no man ever listened to.


" 'It's agreed upon now?' said my grandfather.

" ' All right,' said M'Claverty ; and with a jolly slap on
the shoulder, he said, ' Good morning, D. and D.,' and
away he went.

" He was true to his word ; that day three weeks my
grandfather received a note in pencil ; it was signed
J. M'C., and ran thus : ' Be up at Ballyriggan at eleven
o'clock on Wednesday, and wait at the foot of the hill,
near the birch copse, beside the wooden bridge. Keep
the left of the path, and lie still.' Begad, ma'am, it's
well nobody saw it but himself, or they might have thought
that Dodd and Dempsey was turned highwayman.

" My grandfather was prouder of the same note, and
happier that morning, than if it was an order for fifty
butts of sherry. He read it over and over, and he walked
up and down the little back office, picturing out the whole
scene, settling the chairs till he made a little avenue
between them, and practising the way he'd slip out slyly
and surprise his grace. No doubt, it would have been as
good as a play to have looked at him.

" One difficulty preyed upon his mind, what dress ought
he to wear ? Should he be in a court suit, or ought he
rather to go in his robes as an alderman ? It would never
do to appear in a black coat, a light grey spencer, punch-
coloured shorts and gaiters, white hat with a strip of black
crape on it, mere Dodd and Dempsey ! That wasn't to be
thought of. If he could only ask his friend M'Hale, the
fishmonger, who was knighted last year, he could tell all
about it. M'Hale, however, would blab ; he'd tell it to the
whole livery, every alderman of Skinner's Alley would
know it in a week ! No, no, the whole must be managed
discreetly ; it was a mutual confidence between the Duke
and ' D. and D.' ' At all events,' said my grandfather,
' a court dress is a safe thing ; ' and out he went and be-
spoke one, to be sent home that evening, for he couldn't
rest till he tried it on, and felt how he could move his head
in the straight collar, and bow, without the sword tripping
him up and pitching him into the Duke. I've heard my
father say, that in the days that elapsed till the time
mentioned for the interview, my grandfather lost two stone
in weight. He walked half over the county Dublin, lying


in ambush in every little wood he could see, and jumping
out whenever he could see or hear any one coming ; littlo
surprises which were sometimes taken as practical jokes,
very unbecoming a man of his age and appearance.

" Well, ma'am, Wednesday morning came, and at six
o'clock my grandfather was on the way to Ballyriggan,
and at nine he was in the wood, posted at the very spot
M'Claverty told him, as happy as any man could be whose
expectations were so overwhelming. A long hour passed
over, and another ; nobody passed but a baker's boy with
a bull-dog after him, and an old woman that was stealing
brushwood in the shrubbery. My grandfather remarked
her well, and determined to tell his Grace of it, but his
own business soon drove that out of his head, for eleven
o'clock came, and now there was no knowing the moment
the Duke might appear. With his watch in his hand, he
counted the minutes, ay, even the seconds ; if he was a
thief going to be hanged, and looking out over the heads
of the crowd for a fellow to gallop in with a reprieve, he
couldn't have suffered more : his heart was in his mouth.
At last, it might be about half-past eleven, he heard a
footstep on the gravel, and then a loud, deep cough, ' a
fine kind of cough,' my grandfather afterwards called it ;
he peeped out, and there, sure enough, at about sixty paces,
coming down the walk, was a large, grand-looking man
not that he was dressed as became him, for, strange as you
may think it, the Lord-Lieutenant had on a shooting-
jacket, and a pair of plaid trousers, and cloth boots, and a
big lump of a stick in his hand and lucky it was that my
grandfather knew him, for he bought a picture of him.
On he came neai-er and nearer, every step on the gravel-
walk drove out of my grandfather's head half a dozen of
the fine things he had got off by heart to say during the
interview, until at last he was so overcome by joy, anxiety,
and a kind of terror, that he couldn't tell where he was,
or what was going to happen to him, but he had a kind of
instinct that reminded him he was to jump out when the
Duke was near him, and 'pon my conscience so he did,
clean and clever, into the middle of the walk, right in
front of his Grace. My grandfather used to say, in tel-
ling the story, that he verily believed his feelings at that



moment would have made him burst a blood-vessel if it
wasn't that the Duke put his hands to his sides and laughed
till the woods rang again, but, between shame and fright,
my grandfather didn't join in the laugh.

" ' In Heaven's name ! ' said his Grace, ' who or what
are you ? this isn't May-day.'

" My grandfather took this speech as a rebuke for
standing so bold in his Grace's presence, and being a
shrewd man, and never deficient in tact, what does he do,
but drops down on his two knees before him ? ' My lord,'
said he, ' I am only Dodd and Dempsey.'

" Whatever there was droll about the same house of
Dodd and Dempsey, I never heard, but his Grace laughed
now till he had to lean against a tree. ' Well, Dodd and
Dempsey, if that's your name, get up. I don't mean
you any harm. Take courage, man ; I am not going to
knight "you. By the way, are you not the worthy gentleman
who lent me a trifle of twenty thousand more than once ? '

" My grandfather couldn't speak, but he moved his
lips, and he moved his hands, this way, as though to say
the honour was too great for him, but it was all true.

" ' Well, Dodd and Dempsey, I've a very high respect
for you,' said his Grace ; ' I intend, some of these fine
days, when business permits, to go over and eat an oyster
at your villa on the coast.'

" My grandfather remembers no more ; indeed, ma'am,
I believe that at that instant his Grace's condescension
had so much overwhelmed him. that he had a kind of
vision before his eyes of a whole wood full of Lord-Lieu-
tenants, with about thirty thousand people opening
oysters for them as fast as they could eat, and he himself
running about with a pepper-caster, pressing them to eat
another ' black fin.' It was something of that kind, for
when he got on his legs a considerable time must have
elapsed, as he found all silent around him, and a smart
rheumatic pain in his knee-joints from the cold of the

The first thing my grandfather did when he got back
to town, was to remember that he had no villa on the
sea-coast, nor any more suitable place to eat an oyster
than his house in Abbey Street, for he couldn't ask


his Grace to go to 'Killeen's.' Accordingly he set out
the next day in search of a villa, and before a week was
over he had as beautiful a place about a mile below
Howth as ever was looked at ; and that he mightn't be
taken short, he took a lease of two oyster-beds, and
made every preparation in life for the Duke's visit. He
might have spared himself the trouble. Whether it was
that somebody had said something of him behind his
back, or that politics were weighing on the Duke's mind
the Catholics were mighty troublesome then or,
indeed, that he forgot it altogether, clean, but so it was,
my grandfather never heard more of the visit, and if the
oysters waited for his Grace to come and eat them, they
might have filled up Howth harbour.

" A year passed over, and my grandfather was taking
his solitary walk in the Park, very nearly in the same
place as before for you see, ma'am, he couldn't bear the
sight of the sea-coast, and the very smell of shell-fish
made him ill when somebody called out his name. He
looked up, and there was M'Claverty in a gig.

" ' Well, D. and D., how goes the world with you ? '

"' Very badly indeed,' says my grandfather ; his heart
was full, and he just told him the whole story.

" ' I'll settle it all,' said the captain ; ' leive it to me.
There's to be a review to-morrow in the Park : get on
the back of the best horse you can find the Duke is a
capital judge of a nag ride him briskly about the field,
he'll notice you, never fear, the whole thing will come up
before his memory, and you'll have him to breakfast
before the week's over.'

" ' Do you think so ? do you really think so ? '

" ' I'll take my oath of it. I say, D. and D., could you

Online LibraryCharles James Lever[Charles Lever's novels (Volume 13) → online text (page 3 of 35)